After three quarters Thursday night, it looked like the Golden State Warriors would cruise to a win over the Boston Celtics in Game 1 of the NBA Finals at Chase Center.
Then, everything changed.
The Celtics started the fourth quarter with a surge and never looked back, ultimately outscoring the Warriors 40-16 in the final frame. Boston turned a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit into a 12-point victory, prevailing 120-108 to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
“My gut reaction, what I just witnessed, was they came in and played a hell of a fourth quarter, and you’ve got to give them credit,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr told reporters after the game. “It’s pretty much as simple as that.”
The Celtics elevated their defensive intensity and knocked down 3-pointers at an absurd clip in the fourth quarter, completely flipping the script on the Warriors, who trailed at halftime but catapulted in front with a strong third quarter.
The C’s received major contributions from several players, including Jaylen Brown, Al Horford, Derrick White and Marcus Smart. Even Payton Pritchard carved out a meaningful role off Boston’s bench, which helped the Celtics overcome a lackluster performance by Jayson Tatum.
“I thought we had a couple turnovers, a couple bad possessions offensively, and they just pounced,” Kerr said. “They took advantage of every opportunity, they moved the ball well, and like I said, you make five, six threes in a row in the fourth quarter, that’s tough to overcome.
“So, we’ll watch the tape and learn from it and see what we can do better.”
The Celtics guaranteed at least a split in San Francisco by battling back to win Game 1. Boston now has an opportunity to grab a commanding 2-0 lead before the series shifts to TD Garden for Games 3 and 4.
Game 2 from Chase Center is scheduled for Sunday night at 8 p.m. ET.